The Importance of Rick Nash

Rick Nash. The name alone puts New York Rangers fans on their feet. He is a big superstar and played a vital role in why the Rangers were so successful during the regular season. He is usually known for his goal scoring and offensively capabilities, but these past two seasons has seen Nash grow and mature as a player.

After being the first overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2002 draft, he has always carried the weight on his shoulders of scoring big time goals and scoring them often. During his time in Columbus, Nash was the offensive force. Then, when he was traded to the Rangers back in 2012-2013 season, that all changed. He was surrounded by an exceptionally talented team who had balanced scoring and offensive depth.

Even after coming to New York, Nash was still called upon to score goals and be an offensive leader on the team. He has struggled in his first two seasons, whether it be the pressure of the New York fans or health issues (concussions) he never reached his full potential. This year on the other hand, Nash came into the regular season a completely different player.

Since last year, Nash has turned more into a two-way player who can play extraordinary defense (paired with Derek Stepan on the penalty kill) and is a back-checking wizard on the rush. Head coach Alain Vigneault can thank Mike Babcock, the Canadian Olympic hockey team coach, for Nash’s transition to a two-way player.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Nash was the offensive force that General Manger Glen Sather was hoping for when he acquired Nash. Rick Nash was second in the league and first on the team in goals (42) and lead the Rangers in scoring (69 points). The only downfall to critics, is that Nash seems to not be a playoff player.

Some players always thrive in the big spotlight and elevate their games in the playoffs while others seem to disappear. Including this year, in a total of 48 playoff games, Nash has six goals and twenty three points. For a player of his caliber, that seems unusual. Maybe the last two season in New York, Nash was off during playoff time, but this year he does not need to score every night to make an impact.

He is second on the team in plus/minus (+3) and tied for first in points with Brassard (5). He has one goal in seven postseason games this year. Nash has been a catalyst in the offensive zone all season and has continued that into the playoffs. He has been using his size and speed to beat opponents to the puck and make plays that have lead to goals and scoring chances.

It is unfair that Nash is still being bashed and called out for not being the goal scorer he was in the regular season during the seven postseason games he has played. He has completely rounded out his overall game and has become such a vital player in all ends of the ice. His defensive awareness has grown to where Vigneault has played him against Crosby and Ovechkin successfully.

The goals will come for Nash this postseason, as he is a natural gifted goal scorer.  Nash has shot the puck more than any of his teammates, but is just snake-bitten at the moment when it comes to goals. For now, he needs to continue doing to little things in order to help the team win. He is such an important tool for the head coach to utilize and he understands what it takes to win.

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